I’m curious about how people interpret the basic building blocks of their lives, sorting relevance through systems both public and personal, tangible and virtual. I use 100% pure technology to mimic nature, much like what most of modern society does. I enjoy creating this work with a sense of playful poetry, interpreting complex and intricate (and often ironic) relationships within the ongoing interplay between the ‘artificial’ and the ‘organic’.
Most often, I create interactive sound ‘drawings’ and sculpture that offers a vantage point into these relationships, using audio material (speakers, wires, amplifiers) not just for their sonic capabilities, but also for their sculptural properties. Recently I have begun to incorporate objects that add levels of sensual engagement, presenting participatory experiences that elicit multiple senses: vision, sound, smell – which mocks and transcends the referents from the “real” world. Conceptually, these unfold as questions about sustainability (psychological and environmental), dependency and the complex relationship between people and nature in a techno-centric culture.
I am interested in exemplifying a holistic understanding of our relationship to nature, not only on the biological and physical level, but also through complex socio-political stances that permeate the psychosis of who we are.
About the Artist
Tamara shows nationally and internationally but lives and works in San Francisco.
Tamara was born in Flint, Michigan in 1979.She received her BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002. During her studies in China, while acquiring her bachelor degree, she earned a Certificate of Completion from the International School of Art in Hanghzou, China in Chinese Landscape Painting and Theory. It was in China, that major themes pertaining to nature and balance became the basis of her professional work. In 2003, she was invited to start the first experimental sound department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated 2005 with the first MFA in sound art in the United States.
Tamara has shown extensively nationally and internationally at prestigious institutions such as the 9th International Istanbul Biennial, The European Sound Delta in Paris, France (in collaboration with the Collectiv MU), Project Creo in St. Petersburg, Florida, The Digital Media Centre in Bracknell, England, artTransponder in Berlin, Germany, V2 Institute for Unstable Media in Rotterdam, Netherlands, ParaSite in Hong Kong, China, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stanford University in Palo Alto, Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, California, Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, California and G2 Gallery in Chicago, Illinios.
As of 2013, she is the founder of Burn the Box Studios, collaborating with other creatives, for-profit/non-profit organizations, architects, PR firms and educational institutions furthering the dialogue between art and life in both public and private spaces.
She was the recipient for the Eureka Fellowship 2011-2013 from the Fleishhacker Foundation, Elizabeth Skinner Award, The James Irvine Fellowship and has received scholarships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Djerassi Foundation. Tamara lives and works in San Francisco.
Recology Artist Residency – 4 months – San Francisco, CA. June – September 2012
Installation Assistant to Wolfgang Laib, Chicago, IL. October 2011
New Media Panel, Djerassi Artist Residency – Panel Judge – June 2011
Djerassi Residency – Artist residency – September 2009
European Sound Delta – American sound artist representative for a sound/field recording initiative presented by Collectif MU (Paris, France.) 30 other international sound artists from 18 different countries are represented. July – September 2008
Vermont Studio Center – Artist residency – January 2009
Volunteer Sound Artist –Exploratorium San Francisco, CA “The Sound Room Project,” funded by the NFS 2005-6
“Lost in Translation” workshop – Istanbul, Turkey. 9th International Istanbul Biennial – 2005
Instructor – Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago IL. 2004-5
Exhibition Director’s Assistant – Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, IL. – 2004-5
The Eureka Fellowship Award (Fleishhacker Foundation) 2011 – 2013
The James Irvine Foundation Honorary Fellowship – 2009
Djerassi Foundation Grant – 2009
Scholarship to The Vermont Studio Center – 2007
SAIC Enrichment Award – 2003, 2004, 2005
Elizabeth Skinner Award – Spring 2004, 2005
The School of the Art Institute Chicago, Chicago, IL – MFA, Sound and Sculpture – May 2005
The San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA – BFA, Painting and Drawing – May 2002
The International School of Art Hangzhou, Hangzhou, China – May 2000
‘Bricks and Bones’ Sam Hill Gallery, Prescott, Arizona February 2012
Keys that fit, Oakland, CA April 2008
BoCA Gallery –affiliated with Blasthaus Gallery, San Francisco, CA May 2006
selected group shows
“Taste: Cultivar” Root Division Gallery, San Francisco, CA – 2012
“Building Steam” A Year of Curated Sound at Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA – 2010
“EcoArchive: Meditations on Time and Nature” Co-curated: Patricia Watts and Kevin Chen – Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, Ca – 2010
“Fugue in the Key of Understanding” Para/Site, Hong Kong – 2010
“Present Tense Biennial” Chinese Cultural Center, San Fran, CA – 2009
“Upfront and Center” Headlands Center for the Arts, – 2009
Sound:Space Symposium, South Hill Park Arts and Digital Media Centre – Bracknell, England – 2008
European Sound Delta – three-month show on the Rhine River – 2008
History Room: 20 Years of No Name and the Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN – 2008
“Don’t try this at home” curated by Kevin Chen – Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco, Ca – 2007
“Grounded” curated by Kristan Kennedy (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art)- SOEX – 2007
Collaboration w/Kal Spelletich; The Maker Faire, San Mateo, CA -2007
“Geo Phono Box” – Around the Coyote, Chicago, IL 2007
Wilderness Information Network – Pine Lake Environment Campus of Hartwick College, New York – 2006
‘Communication’ Project Creo, St. Petersburg, FL – 2005
‘Post Producers – Art transponder, Berlin, Germany – 2005
‘Lost in Translation’ curated by Vasif Kortun and Charles Esche – 9th International Istanbul Biennial – 2005
‘Breathe’ curated:Dave Gent – Up the Stairs Gallery, Chicago IL -2005
‘Gigantic’ – No Name Exhibitions, Minneapolis, MN – 2005
‘Resonance’ G2 Gallery, Chicago, IL – 2005
‘New Works’ Innergy Gallery, Chicago, IL – 2004
‘Crosswalk’ 1926 Exhibition Space, Chicago, IL – 2004
‘Love Show’ Monkey Business Gallery, Chicago, IL – 2004
Bay Area Sculptors Biennial, San Francisco, CA – 2003
Walter McBean Gallery, San Francisco, CA – 2002
Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, CA – 2001
‘San Francisco’ Institute of Art, Hangzhou, China – 2000
Broadcasts and Guest Appearances on CD compilations
KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, CA – The Morning Show – 2010
KQED “California Connected” Pre-Tense Biennial – 2009
‘Live from Amsterdam with John Sinclair’ OCII – 2008
‘Art Report’ for PBS, Summer 2005 edition
‘New Adventures in Sound Art’ – CBC Radio 1’s Outfront, Toronto, ON May 25, 2005
‘People Doing Strange Things With Electricity Too’ – Comfort Stand Records – 2005
‘Vermilion Sounds’ – Resonance FM 104.4, London – 2004
‘Bricks and Bones’ (collaboration with Delisa Myles) Sam HIll Gallery, Prescott, Arizona February 2012
V2 Institute for Unstable Media, Rotterdam, Netherlands August 2008
Bread and Puppet Performance with Peter Schumann -2008
PAC Edge Festival, Chicago, IL – 2005
“With a sonic sculpture by Tamara Albaitis that creates a “sea kelp forest of sound” to aid the dancers in their exploration of memory and perception, the piece considers the effect of physical and emotional presence within a given time and place.”
Finally, an Art Exhibit That Doesn’t Just Bemoan Technology
“Albaitis’ installation, consisting of about one hundred speaker cones crammed into the opening of a gallery archway, their wires creeping out onto the ceiling and floor, employs an aesthetic that contrasts with those of her co-exhibitors. Although the only work in the show to involve sound, it in many ways seems the quietest. While the obstructive monument certainly delights in agglomeration of a sort akin to O’Brien’s photographic duplication and Benson’s post-production layering, it feels relatively still; painted white on one side and black on the other, it suggests a wall of skulls in a catacomb.”
Sixth Season Design star Meg Caswell interviews Tamara Albaitis and Amy Wilson Faville about their artist residencies at Recology in San Francisco.
Bricks and Bones: Soma Meets Sonic
“Walking into Tamara’s creation is stepping into somethign very visceral and felt. With this quality inherent in Tamara’s aesthetic and process, it was inspiring to delve into the possibilities and an invitation to consider the many forms of movement and sound inherent in daily life. Sound after all, is movement as well.”
“Installation art is, by nature, a conduit.
What it conveys varies piece by piece and subjective interpretation, although most artists nurture general philosophies.Consider “Bricks and Bones” a four-week sound art piece that’s transformed Prescott’s Sam Hill Warehouse into an analog wonderland of audio wire and speaker cone sculptures and drawings….” – Nicholas DeMarino
Chinese Cultural Center and Kearny Street Workshop
Vibrant, political, poetic, and challenging,the Present Tense Biennial, coordinated by the Chinese Cultural Center and the Kearny Street Workshop, speaks volumes about contemporary Asian/American identity. Curated by Kevin B. Chen with Abby Chen and Ellen Oh, this exhibition assembles work by thirty-one artists from the bay area and abroad in response to contemporary Chinese Culture. After viewing several bay area exhibitions of work by native Chinese artists (major shows at SFMOMA and BAMPFA), I was pleased to behold an Asian American response to the challenges of identity and shifting political currents as it relates to cultural heritage at the Present Tense Biennial.”…Tamara Albaitis adds a sonic dimension to Cui Fei’s dialogue on language through her interactive installation consisting of two hanging grids of speakers–each mini-speaker emitting an element of speech (a vowel, a consonant, a dipthong). Not only does the grid format allude to the way we attempt to structure our thoughts through language and the lined formatting of written compositions, it also (through the collective, babel-esque sounds of this piece) deconstructs the conventions and notions of power attached to language/speech…”- Marisa Nakasone, San Francisco Examiner
crusher.com by Phillip Crush
‘Don’t try this at home’ Intersection for the Arts
This show turned out to be very good. The dogs by Lauren Davies were much more cooler than the earlier photo I uploaded. Also the sound sculptures by Tamara Albaitis were really impressive but I didn’t get any good photos. She manages to make wire and speakers seem organic and the audio loops are haunting. It’s won’t say the show as a whole was mind-blowing but it was original and the artists were all strong and distinct. Intersection for the Arts is a sweet space by the way.
The New York Times
“…that night she would take a bath under an intricate, weblike speaker installation chiming noises distilled from the narrative strands of the weekend…”
Kristian Ruggieri scavanges with artists at the dump.
In collaboration with Scary Cow Film Production, Inspiration Safari documents projects around the world that are acting locally and influencing globally. Visit www.inspirationsafari.com for more info
Art at the Dump
“Tamara Albaitis’s show, Dwell, consists of sculptural sound installations constructed from discarded speakers and other finds from the Recology recycling plant. Her use of sound and lights together with the placement of curious objects inside empty speaker boxes allows the viewer to be part of a treasure hunt, perhaps glimpsing a future when discarded materials of today might have different significances and values. Albaitis’s attention to detail and interesting use of repetition creates harmony and elements of surprise.”
By Nicholas DeMarino”…When her hands aren’t in her pockets, Albaitis discusses art with the kinesthetic flair of a dancer as her gestures lead her around the room….”more
East Bay Express
Double Dare at Swarm Gallery
“Showing in the Project Room is Tamara Albaitis’ sound installation, “Honey,” both enchanting and alarming, in a sci-fi fairy-tale way. Amid walls and ceiling covered with wiry black “drawing” a bit reminiscent of sprayed spiderweb hangs a large black spindle-shaped structure, somewhat resembling a wrapped insect meal, vibrating and humming and buzzing through clusters of small speaker cones.”
BOCA is pleased to present recent work by San Francisco’s Tamara Albaitis from May 10 through June 10, 2006. The opening reception for the artist will be on Thursday, May 10th from 6pm-10pm. Albaitis sound installations are inspired by daily rituals, routines and her personal observations of the pervasive effects of audio-visual synchronization on everyday life – “the technological mediation of experience” a concept that philosopher Paul Virilio describes as the “sonorization of everything.” Albaitis’ minimalist approach begins with her employment of the most rudimentary materials for sound – raw speakers and audio wires, which become sculptural components for each work. The materials reference the entry into a world of replicated realities. Unlike the majority of contemporary visual artists, hers begins with sound and the mechanical properties of amplified audio in order to articulate a visualization of the sonic form itself, which can then be experienced site-specifically. With deliberate use of the floors and ceilings within the space, as with sound molecules, the black wires turn into what the artist describes as “three-dimensional drawings” within mid-air. Her works free the mechanics of sound from its representative qualities into another space, which draws the observer into a new mode of audio/visual perception.
In Albaitis’s work, the speakers themselves, emanating everyday, unnoticed sonic happenings, start to embrace a vast amount of implications, metaphors, and language. She addresses issues concerning the way technology re-structures our personal and public space. Whereas technological advances inevitably progress to become more efficient, faster, and more user friendly, Albaitis, in opposition, has chosen the simplest structure of sound reproduction in order to provoke a feeling of primordially while at the same time reminding us of the deafening effect of the explosion of everything audio/visual in our daily lives.
– Tracy Blitz – Art Critic – San Francisco
Tamara Albaitis states that she is investigating “Acousmatics – when we rupture the representational characteristics of sound and delve deeper into the sensations and personal meanings of sounds.” Fine. We’ve got a premise. The remainder of the explanatory is a cacophonous cascade of marginally intelligible generalities, so let’s skip that and go straight to the art. Her installations consist of speaker groups and wires, assembled and arranged not only to transmit sounds of ordinary everyday life, but also with attention to their visual appearance, exclusive of the sounds they emanate. Bottom line for me — you don’t have to understand it to appreciate it.
-Alan Bamberger – art consultant, advisor, author, and independent appraiser
Pulse of the Two Cities
June 2005 issue
Now that winter is behind us, the Soap Factory, which closes its poorly heated warehouse during the cold season, has re-opened. The first exhibition of the season, Gigantic, embraces the Soap’s distinctive interior with pieces hanging from the high ceilings, videos projected inside tucked-away rooms and one piece lowering the ceiling, making it necessary to crouch and scuttle to get to the other gallery spaces. The intention of the show is to “expand our understanding of the role of size and proportion in our lives.”
The experience of being human is odd enough from the traditional perspective of our everyday lives, but inhabiting one’s body in the manner depicted by Tamara Albaitis’ piece “Out and In: A Sonic Study of Space” is both disturbing and amusing. The viewer steps into a vertical tunnel and is encapsulated by red fabric that cascades from the ceiling. Inside, loud belching, chewing and sneezing block out all other sound while a bright, hot lamp sheds a surreal light on the tight space. Perhaps the most alarming of all the pieces exhibited in Gigantic, Albaitis’ installation casts a spell that is slow to subside.
The Soap Factory’s unusually large gallery space is the perfect home for a show of such magnitude. Gigantic is a feast of the bizarre and the sensual. When things that were once ignorable are no longer so, the effect is at times unsettling, at times captivating. Gigantic abundantly captures both feelings.
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